Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 10:3 (Fall 2006) p. 82
The Paradoxes of Paul. Vol. 2 of Justification and Variegated Nomism. Edited by D. A. Carson, Peter T. O’Brien, and Mark A. Seifrid. Tübingen/Grand Rapids: Mohr Siebeck/Baker, 2004. x + 545 pp., $49.99.
The new perspective has lost its newness and perhaps it has lost its attractiveness as well. Book after book has emerged challenging the central contentions of the new perspective. The view of Judaism first propounded by Sanders was demonstrated to be wanting in the first volume of Variegated Nomism, for it was shown that covenantal nomism does not fit all the literature in second temple Judaism, and that there is significant evidence that contradicts the so-called pattern. And the first volume of this two volume set does not stand alone in its critique of Sanders’s interpretation of second temple Judaism, for serious challenges have also been issued in volumes by Mark Elliott, Friedrich Avemarie, Andrew Das, and Simon Gathercole. Thus far the empire has not struck back, and one wonders if the textual evidence advanced in these recent works can be refuted. The new perspective on Paul may be well on the way to becoming the old and outmoded perspective.
If such is the case, volume 2 of Variegated Nomism may constitute a summary of the arguments that have dethroned the new paradigm with regard to Paul. If the view of second temple Judaism advanced by the new perspective seems to be in serious trouble, the same can be said regarding its theology of Paul advanced most significantly by James Dunn and N. T. Wright. The sheer number of books questioning the work of Dunn and Wright (and of course Sanders) makes it impossible to list them all, but we think of the contributions of Moo, Thielman, Westerholm, Laato, Das, Gathercole, Aletti, Seifrid, Das, Stuhlmacher and Hagner, etc. Naturally some scholars continue to advance the new perspective, but it seems that the current is now running in the other direction. The newness has worn off, and the exegesis of the Reformers, though not embraced in every particular, seems to be weathering the recent challenge. Perhaps the proverb applies in this case, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov 18:17 ESV).
A book with essays by a number of different contributors, like this one, does not build to a climax. Instead the various authors examine different aspects of the new perspective, and the careful reader will perceive that they do not agree in every respect. Nevertheless, the book reflects a broad consensus on the inadequacy of the new perspective. Space is lacking to interact with the essays in any detail, and it will suffice to note some of the essays and the contributions therein. Stephen Westerholm introduc...
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